Tensions were high as the Lebanon Pioneers played host to their Russell County rivals from Castlewood. The Pioneers came into the game still looking for their first win of the season. While the Blue Devils wanted to become the first Castlewood team to get a road win over Lebanon in 39 years. The added pressure of trying to extend the home winning streak over Castlewood to 40 years weighed heavy on the young Pioneers as the they took the field.
Lebanon RB Seth Stanley secured the squib kick on the Lebanon 37 yd line. After runs by WR Cole Stoots and Stanley on 1st & 2nd down, the Pioneers faced 3rd&5. QB Casey White’s pass would fall incomplete as he tried to hit Caleb McGlothlin on an out route. A bad snap on the ensuing punt attempt started a scramble for the ball with the Blue Devils recovering it on the Lebanon 36 yd line.
Starting off with great field position, Castlewood RB Brue Mullins took the first carry of the drive for a minimal gain. A pass interference penalty against the Pioneers on 2nd&9 provided a first down and moved the ball to the 20 yd line. A 4 yd run by Mullins and a 5yd penalty on the Pioneers would setup 2nd&1 on the 11 yd line. Taking the snap from under center, QB Jacob Vance picked up the first down with a QB sneak before a Castlewood penalty moved them back to the 20 yd line. Once again Vance would keep the ball, this time on a QB draw bringing the ball down to the 13 yard line. Brue Mullins finished the drive two plays later with a 9 yd TD run. Lebanon’s Jeremy Rosenbaum & Levi Thomas stopped the two point conversion attempt by sacking Vance. With just over 7 minutes left in the 1st quarter Castlewood led 6-0.
The Pioneer offense took over on their own 35 yd line after the Blue Devil kickoff went out of bounds. Seth Stanley carried the ball to the 41 yd line setting up 2nd & 6. Casey White’s pass to WR Fisher Martin brought the Pioneers into Castlewood territory and down to the 44 yd line. With a fresh set of downs, Cole Stoots came in motion and took the handoff down to the Blue Devils’ 39 yd line. Running to his left, Stanley ripped off a 17 yd carry to the bring the Pioneers to the Castlewood 22 yd line. Two plays later a holding penalty negated Casey White’s TD pass to Cole Stoots. Stanley would again tear through the Blue Devil defense bringing the ball down to the 4 yd line. The defense stiffened on the next play as Castlewood was able to stop him for a short loss bringing up 2nd&Goal from the 7 yd line. On the next play Caleb McGlothlin hauled in White’s pass for the TD. K #25 Gabe Figueroa would tack on the extra point and Lebanon led 7-6 with a little more than 3 minutes left in the 1st Qtr.
Castlewood started the next drive on their own 40 yd line. Brue Mullins picked up 4 yards on his first carry of the drive. Pioneer LB’s Brady Waugh and Seth Stanley would stop Mullins on the next play for a 2 yd loss setting up 3rd&8 for the Blue Devils. Jacob Vance’s pass fell incomplete and the Castlewood punt team took the field.
With 2 minutes left in the quarter, the Pioneer offense started off on their own 12 yd line. Back to back carries by Stanley moved the ball out to the 23 yd line. White’s pass to Fisher Martin brought the Pioneers to their own 30 yd line. Another run by Stanley picked up the first down and the offense was gaining momentum. The next play brought a sight familiar to Lebanon fans as Seth Stanley set sail on a 47 yard run. He would continue to slash through the defense crossing the goal line with just over 10 minutes left in the 1st half. The extra point attempt was unsuccessful and the Pioneers had themselves a 13-6 lead.
The Blue Devils returned the kickoff to their own 35 yard line. Castlewood wasn’t able to get anything going as Lebanon’s defense forced a 3 & out. The Pioneers fielded the punt and took over on their own 23 yd line with 8 minutes left in the first half. Cole Stoots caught White’s pass to bring the ball out to the 40 yd line. The Blue Devils would stack the box and put the Pioneers into 3rd&long when White again found the open receiver. This time Casey Martin made the catch for the first down. Lebanon would continue to move the ball downfield mixing the power running of Stanley with timely passes from White. Cole Stoots capped off the drive by catching a 25 yard TD pass. Going for two, White would again come through in the clutch finding Casey Martin in the back of the endzone. Lebanon’s led 21-6 with just over 4 minutes left in the half.
The Blue Devils started the next drive on their own 25 yd line. The Lebanon defense again stifled the Castlewood running game, forcing them to take to the air. With Vance’s pass in the air, Lebanon’s Cole Stoots came up with another big play. His interception would give the Pioneers the ball back on their own 47 yd line with. Lebanon would be unable to cash in on the turnover as Castlewood’s Jeremiah Allen turned his game up a notch. Allen came up big with 2 sacks and a solo tackle on the next three plays to force the Pioneers to punt. The Devils would take over on their own 29 yd line with about a minute left before halftime. QB Jacob Vance found himself under pressure and was unable to complete a pass bringing up another punt. At halftime the Pioneers were still up 21-6.
Castlewood received the kickoff to start the third quarter. Unable to get anything going against the Lebanon defense the Blue Devils punted the ball away. The Pioneers moved the ball the strength of several big runs by Seth Stanley and a key completion from Casey White to Casey Martin. White then hit Cole Stoots for an 18 yd catch and run for another Lebanon touchdown. With less than a minute left in the 3rd quarter, Gabe Figueroa would add on the extra point and the score was 28-6.
The Pioneer defense would force another punt to get the ball back on their own 34 yard line. The Blue Devils made a rare stop of Stanley on 1st down for no gain before giving up 5 yards to him on 2nd. White’s pass to Casey Martin on 3rd down would move the sticks and set the Pioneers up with a first down on the Castlewood 42 yard line. Seth Stanley rumbled through the Blue Devil defense for another touchdown on the next play. Figueroa’s kick was good and the Pioneers were up 35-6.
Castlewood turned to RB Brue Mullins to get thing going on 1st down, he responded with a 6 yd run. Lebanon’s Levi Thomas shot into the Blue Devil backfield and was able to create a turnover as he recovered the Castlewood fumble. Getting the ball back on the Blue Devil 42. The Pioneers would once again start moving down the field on the strength of their running game. The drive ended just outside the endzone as Castlewood CB Ethan Fields made a touchdown saving interception at the 1 yard line. Neither team would score again until QB Jacob Vance’s scrambled from 24 yards out for the Blue Devil TD. Vance connected with Dalton Fields for the 2 point conversion for the final points of the evening. With a final score of 35-14 the Pioneers got their first win of the season.
After the game Lebanon head coach Michael Webb had a bit to say about his team and the game. “We have seen steady improvement on the offensive side of the ball all year. Changing from a power I look to a spread, multiple receiver, zone blocking scheme has had its challenges, but we are improving. Hopefully we can continue to grow and expand on our schemes. Our Oline and WR’s did a great job blocking this week . Big runs are a combo of the RB breaking a tackle and the WR’s getting blocks downfield. We did both well this week. Seth and Cole had great games. 3 big catches though were Caleb for the touchdown on the slant. and Casey picking up 2 huge first downs on a stick route and then a slant.” Continuing while speaking about the defense, “(LB)Brady Waugh…..played awesome all night.” Seth Stanley’s monster game with 231 yards & 2 TD’s put him over the 1,000 yard mark for the season. The head Pioneer had this to say about Stanley, “Seth is a great RB, he will be a great fit for a small college like Emory, Uva Wise, Pikeville, Bluefield, whoever is lucky enough to pick him up.” Other notable performances came from the offensive line as they did a great job blocking while the defensive coordinator had his unit well prepared for the Blue Devil offense.
Castlewood moves on to prepare for a visit from JI Burton, while Lebanon hosts Virginia High on Friday night.
A 1992 graduate of Castlewood High School, I left the mountains of Southwest Va to spend over a decade in the Army. During that time I was blessed to play & coach football at various levels in South Carolina, Georgia, Massachusetts, and then over in Germany. I ended up with over 15 years of coaching and playing experience. These days I enjoy watching my son play. The athletes in Southwest Virginia are just as talented and gifted as those from other regions, but often they don’t get the coverage and exposure that others do. It’s my pleasure to help cover their games and hopefully assist them in getting the exposure they need to continue playing.